Christian Woman Gang-Raped and Paraded Naked in India: ‘The Police Were There with the Mob’

christian woman gang raped and paraded naked in india the police were there with the mob
David Talukdar/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Huge protests erupted in the conflicted Indian state of Manipur on Friday after a viral video showed two women from the Christian Kuki tribe being paraded naked and sexually assaulted by a howling mob of men.

The horrifying video has brought the steadily escalating Manipur crisis to the point of explosion and finally forced Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak about the situation.

Manipur’s mix of hill-dwelling Christian tribes and majority-Hindu lowland villagers has been restless for quite some time, but the current crisis kicked into high gear in May when the Meitei villagers demanded the same special benefits extended to the much smaller and poorer Kuki and Naga tribal minorities. The tribes were outraged by this demand, and the argument soon led to vandalism and riots.

The Indian central government, which is dominated by Modi’s BJP party, strove to avoid getting pulled into the Manipur crisis. Opposition parties, especially the Indian National Congress (INC), leaped on the opportunity to portray BJP as callous and negligent. The opposition hinted that BJP’s Hindu nationalist character made it reluctant to protect Manipur’s Christian minority from Hindu mobs.

BJP, in turn, accused INC of milking the crisis for political gain and pulling stunts that made the conflict worse, such as INC leader Rahul Gandhi making a showy visit to Manipur villages in late June.

The viral video threatening to set Manipur ablaze was actually filmed on May 4 in the Thoubal district, but was not made public until Wednesday because the Indian government long ago blacked out Internet coverage in Manipur.

In the video clip, which is less than 30 seconds long, two nude Kuki women – one in her 20s, the other in her 40s – were dragged toward an open field by a large mob of men who screamed insults at them. Some of the men groped the victims as they were pulled along.

The clip ends with a group of men raping the younger woman. According to police reports, a third woman in her 50s was also assaulted and the youngest victim’s father and brother were killed by the mob, which numbered close to a thousand men, many of them armed with rifles.

The mob looted and burned the village where the victims lived. According to the police complaint, the three women and the two men who were killed had actually fled the village and were under police protection when the mob took them away from the police. The father of the family was murdered instantly, while his son was killed while attempting to protect the women. The three women survived the assault and made their way to a relief camp.

christian woman gang raped and paraded naked in india the police were there with the mob

A Kuki tribal woman breaks down while narrating the ordeal of her escape after her village was burnt down in  Manipur.  (Manish Swarup/AP)

“The police were there with the mob which was attacking our village. The police picked us up from near home and took us a little away from the village and left us on the road with the mob. We were given to them by police,” the youngest victim said.

The outrage swelling across India was made worse by the video being kept under wraps for two months thanks to the Internet blackout in Manipur, and the baffling inability of the police to arrest any of the “unknown armed miscreants” who appeared in the video.

Embattled Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh claimed there have been no arrests because the police were overwhelmed with thousands of complaints filed in early May during a surge of violence.

“Police were trying to identify the case when the video surfaced. As soon as we got hold of the video, we could identify the culprits and action was taken immediately and we arrested two persons, including the main culprit,” Singh said on Friday.

“My heart goes out to the two women who were subjected to a deeply disrespectful and inhuman act,” he tweeted.

Singh is both a member of BJP and an ethnic Meitei, biographical details which have become increasingly prominent in the opposition’s criticism of Modi and his party.

The Indian Express investigated Singh’s excuse for 62 days without arrests and discovered the police complaint filed after the assault languished in bureaucratic limbo for over a month, ostensibly because the victims fled their village and filed their incident report in a different district, so it took weeks for the “right” police precinct to gain possession of the paperwork.

The police superintendent of Thoubal tried a different excuse, telling the Indian Express that his force “could not take any action” due to a “lack of evidence.”

“We only came to know about the video yesterday. Now that we have evidence in the form of the video, we have swung into action and have begun making arrests,” he said.

The superintendent also disputed the victim’s accusation that police officers handed her family over to the rampaging mob.

“That very day, the Nongpok Sekmai police station was being mobbed by people trying to loot arms. Police were busy guarding the police station,” he insisted.

Manipur police said on Thursday they arrested the alleged “mastermind” of the mob killings and rape and by Friday they brought the total number of arrests up to four. The mastermind was identified as 32-year-old Huirem Herodas Meitei, from the village of Pechi Awang Leikai. After his name was made public, a group of women from his village held a brief conference, then burned his house down.

“Be it Meitei or other communities, as a woman, outraging a woman’s dignity is not acceptable. We cannot allow such a person to be in our society. It’s a shame to the entire Meitei community,” one of the village women explained. 

Prime Minister Modi spoke up on Thursday at a press conference before a parliamentary session, delivering his first public remarks on the situation in Manipur.

“My heart is filled with pain, it is filled with anger. The incident from Manipur that has come to the fore, it is shameful for any civil society,” he said.

“The law will take its strongest steps, with all its might. What happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven. The guilty will not be spared,” he said.

The INDIA opposition alliance formed this week to challenge BJP in next year’s parliamentary elections slammed Modi for remaining silent on Manipur until nationwide outrage over the viral video forced his hand.

“[Modi] has made no appeal for peace, nor asked for the CM [Chief Minister] of Manipur to step down. While he has commented on this one video that has surfaced, this is only one example of the hundreds of incidents of barbaric violence in the state of Manipur,” said opposition leader Asaduddin Owaisi.

christian woman gang raped and paraded naked in india the police were there with the mob

Members of Catholic Association organized a march for Manipur seeking peace on July 16, 2023, in Kolkata, India. (Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Owaisi denounced the “complete and total collapse of law and order and administration in Manipur,” arguing that perpetrators of crimes against women in states governed by the opposition usually produce arrests within 24 hours, but in Manipur it took 15 days for the victims to complete the paperwork on their police complaint.

“The PM at last spoke on Manipur after two months of continuing genocide of Kuki tribes,” Owaisi said. “A question the government must answer: but for the horrible video, would Modi have reacted?”

“Humanity has died in Manipur,” said Mallikarjun Kharge, president of the opposition India National Congress (INC). “The Modi government and BJP have changed democracy and the rule of law into mobocracy by destroying the delicate social fabric of the state.”

“Narendra Modi, India will never forgive your silence. You have abdicated your constitutional responsibility,” Kharge said on Twitter.

christian woman gang raped and paraded naked in india the police were there with the mob

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Eraldo Peres, File/AP)

Several opposition lawmakers filed notices in both houses of the Indian parliament on Friday demanding a discussion of the Manipur attacks before the entire legislature, with Modi in attendance.

Opposition lawmakers disrupted the parliamentary sessions on Thursday and Friday, shouting slogans and vowing to halt all other business until a debate on Manipur is held. Large protests were held across Manipur on Thursday and Friday, with demonstrators demanding justice for the mob killings and sexual assaults.

The Indian central government on Thursday told Twitter and other social media programs to stop circulating the video of the gang rape. 

“It is imperative for the social media platforms to adhere to Indian laws, as the matter is currently under investigation,” the notice said.

Authored by John Hayward via Breitbart July 21st 2023